2017 Reading Challenge: 7th installment

-A book with one of the four seasons in the title: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. When their father dies, they find themselves alongside their mother who is cold and disapproving. As children their mother would sometimes tell them fairy tales at bedtime, and with the death of their father their mother promises to tell them the special fairy tale one last time…all the way to the end. As they listen to this story, the sisters finally understand who their mother is. This story is an excellent read.

-A book set during wartime: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne. This is the story of nine year-old Bruno, and his experience with meeting the boy in the striped pajamas. Bruno doesn’t understand why the boy is on the other side of a fence but they become friends as they learn about each others’ life. What an excellent story; and it’s set during WWII.

-A book involving a mythical creature: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets  by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay. This illustrated edition of HP #2 is simply beautiful. The wonderful words of Rowling combined with the lovely illustrations of Kay, leads to a wonderful book! The mythical creature involved in this story is the basilisk.

-A book by a person of colour: The Book of Negroes  by Lawrence Hill. “Abducted from Africa as a child and enslaved in South Carolina, Aminata Diallo thinks only of freedom―and of the knowledge she needs to get home. Sold to an indigo trader who recognizes her intelligence, Aminata is torn from her husband and child and thrown into the chaos of the Revolutionary War. In Manhattan, Aminata helps pen the Book of Negroes, a list of blacks rewarded for service to the king with safe passage to Nova Scotia. There Aminata finds a life of hardship and stinging prejudice. When the British abolitionists come looking for “adventurers” to create a new colony in Sierra Leone, Aminata assists in moving 1,200 Nova Scotians to Africa and aiding the abolitionist cause by revealing the realities of slavery to the British public. This captivating story of one woman’s remarkable experience spans six decades and three continents and brings to life a crucial chapter in world history.” (Goodreads)

-A bestseller from a genre you don’t normally read: A Voice in the Wind  by Francine Rivers. A genre I don’t normally read is Christian Fiction. I went through a phase years ago, and it’s not a genre that seems to be on my list a lot of the time. This book, though, is a favourite of mine and I’ve read this series (The Mark of the Lion) numerous times. This book “brings readers back to the first century and introduces them to a character they will never forget—Hadassah. Torn by her love for a handsome aristocrat, this young slave girl clings to her faith in the living God for deliverance from the forces of decadent Rome.” An excellent read!!

2017 Reading Challenge: 6th Installment

-A book you loved as a child: The Dark Is Rising  by Susan Cooper. “On his 11th birthday, Will Stanton learns that he is the last born of the Old Ones. At once, he is plunged into a quest for the six magical Signs that will one day aid in the final battle between the Dark and Light.” This book is #2 in The Dark Is Rising Sequence, in the junior fiction category. I remember reading this series/sequence when I was younger and absolutely loving it! One of my faves back then.

-A book that’s published in 2017: Hunted  by Meagan Spooner. An excellent re-telling of the Beauty and the Beast story, although it doesn’t include the enchanted items in the Beast’s castle. A must-read for fans of the fairy tale! This book was published this year and was just excellent.

-A book with a cat on the cover: The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes  by Bill Watterson. This is a collection of Calvin and Hobbes cartoons. I don’t usually read this type of book, but it just happened naturally that this was the choice of book for this prompt. We had recently visited the parents of a friend of ours who had passed away a while ago. The book had belonged to their son so now it had become theirs. My son borrowed it after our visit and read it numerous times…just loving it! He kept telling me I should read it. I didn’t really want to, but thought I should eventually. Then when I noticed that there is indeed a cat on the cover, I just knew that this was the book I had to read for this prompt! It was quite funny! What a pair, that Calvin and Hobbes!

-A book recommended by a librarian: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. Found this title on a librarian’s site of great books to read. “Once, in a house on Egypt Street, there lived a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. The rabbit was very pleased with himself, and for good reason: he was owned by a girl named Abilene, who treated him with the utmost care and adored him completely. And then, one day, he was lost. Kate DiCamillo takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the top of a garbage heap to the fireside of a hoboes’ camp, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. And along the way, we are shown a true miracle — that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.” (Goodreads). An excellent story!

-An audiobook: Shopaholic to the Rescue  by Sophie Kinsella. I don’t ever “read” audiobooks, but since it was a part of this challenge I did! I found it quite enjoyable to use/read. Anyway, it’s book #8 in the Shopaholic series in which Becky and her group of friends/family go on a road trip to try to track down her dad. A good addition to the Shopaholic series.

2nd Annual “What My Friends Are Reading…”

Thought I’d do a post like this again by asking some friends what they’re reading right now. And all of you get to reap those benefits by exploring the variety of titles listed below. It seems as if we’re got a wide selection here: fiction, non-fiction, magazines, poetry…what a great list!! Thanks to everyone for taking the time to share with my readers and contribute to this post! I couldn’t have done it without you!

-Megan: The Rosie Effect  by Graeme Simison

-Amanda: What She Left Behind  by Ellen Marie Wiseman, and The Time Travelers Wife  Audrey Niffenegger

-Jeff: The Economist  (magazine)

-Lynnette: The Daughter  by Jane Shemilt

-Annica: All the Light We Cannot See  by Anthony Doerr, Simplicity Parenting  by Kim John Payne, and Family Driven Faith  by Voddie Baucham Jr

-Jen: Pharaoh  by Wilbur Smith

-Craig: The Rainmaker  by John Grisham

-Sara: The Giver series by Lois Lowry, and A Wrinkle in Time series by Madeleine L’engle

-Julie: I Do It With the Lights On  by Whitney Way Thore, Milk & Honey  by Rupi Kaur, and When Breath Becomes Air  by Paul Kalanithi

-Dylan: The Day I (Almost) Killed Two Gretzkies  by James Duthie

-Serena: The Painted Girls  by Cathy Marie Buchanan, and Introvert Power by Laurie Helgoe

-Terrilyn: Seventh Day  by Bodie & Brock Thoene

-Doug: 3000 Degrees: The True Story of a Deadly Fire and the Men who Fought it  by Sean Flynn

-Nancy: Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

-Elizabeth: The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison, Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

-Anonymous: Age of Myth by Michael J Sullivan

2017 Reading Challenge: 5th installment

-A book that’s becoming a movie in 2017: The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman. This is a non-fiction book as it’s based on real-life happenings and diary excerpts about this story. During WWII in Warsaw, Poland, the zookeeper and his wife turned their zoo into a safe house and a stop on the Underground Railroad to save the lives of 300 Jews who had been imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto.

-A book you’ve read before that never fails to make you smile: Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone  by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay. Such a wonderful book, and this time I read the edition with the illustrations by Jim Kay. What beautiful additions to the story, I loved the illustrations that were included that really brought the story to life! So, this story always makes me smile, and my smile was even bigger this time around! I love Harry Potter!!

-A book with a red spine: Rebel Queen  by Michelle Moran. “When the British Empire sets its sights on India in the 1850s, it expects a quick and easy conquest. But when the British arrive in the Kingdom of Jhansi, expecting its queen to forfeit her crown, they are met with a surprise. Instead of surrendering, Queen Lakshmi raises two armies—one male, one female—and rides into battle like Joan of Arc. Although her soldiers are little match against superior British weaponry and training, Lakshmi fights against an empire determined to take away the land she loves. Told from the perspective of Sita, one of the guards in Lakshmi’s all-female army and the queen’s most trusted warrior.” (goodreads). This was a great book and was a historical even that I had never learned about. A great read for any fan of historical fiction. To choose this book for this prompt, I browsed the shelves at the library and explored those with a red spine. Pretty easy. This one caught my attention of all the red-spines I looked at.

-A book of letters: The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. “A milestone in the history of popular theology. A masterpiece of satire, it entertains readers with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to “Our Father Below.” At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging account of temptation–and triumph over it–ever written.” (goodreads). 

-A book with a month or day of the week in the title: The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright. “Their story begins with one letter on their wedding night, a letter from the groom, promising to write his bride every week—for as long they both shall live. Thirty-nine years later, Jack and Laurel Cooper die in each other’s arms. And when their grown children return to the family B&B to arrange the funeral, they discover thousands of letters. The letters they read tell of surprising joys and sorrows. They also hint at a shocking family secret—and ultimately force the children to confront a life-changing moment of truth .” (Goodreads). Obviously, this book has the day Wednesday in the title. The premise of this book sounded interesting so I chose it. Didn’t realize right away that it was in the Christian Fiction genre…it’s not my favourite genre, and the writing was typical for that genre, but it was an okay story.

Educate Ourselves!

I recently read a book of essays entitled In This Together: Fifteen Stories of Truth and Reconciliation. Check out my review here: https://red5sbooknook.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/in-this-together/

This book got me thinking about how much I actually know about residential schools and their history. I’ll admit I know the basics, but have never really studied it in-depth. It made me want to educate myself, and also to expose it to my kids so they’re brought up knowing something about this aspect of their country’s history. This led me to my library to explore whether there were children’s books about this topic that I could access. I was glad to discover that there were books available so I checked some out and brought them home. I read them first, before reading them to my kids…just so I could be somewhat prepared to explain/answer any questions that might come up. These are the two books that we read together:


These are written by Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, with beautiful art by Gabrielle Grimard. These books are based on the true story of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, and some of her experiences with the residential school system. When I Was Eight is about Olemaun/Margaret’s desire to go to the school and what she experienced there. And, Not My Girl  is about her return home and settling back into her family and home and the changes that go with that. Both are excellent for children as an introduction to this aspect of history. I highly recommend them! The illustrations are wonderful, too, and really add something special to the story.

My kids and I had a great discussion after reading these books. They had questions, they were sad about some parts, and we talked through those questions and feelings so they could understand it to the best of their abilities for their ages (9 and 6). I will try to discuss this topic more frequently with my kids as they grow older, and look through more books so that we can educate ourselves.

2017 Reading Challenge: 4th installment

-A book that is a story within a story: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. “During a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy—her vivacious, loving, nearly perfect mother. Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress living in London. The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this may be her last chance, Laurel searches for answers to the questions that still haunt her from that long-ago day, answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past. Dorothy’s story takes the reader from pre–WWII England through the blitz, to the ’60s and beyond. It is the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined. The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams and the unexpected consequences they sometimes bring. It is an unforgettable story of lovers and friends, deception and passion that is told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world.” (Goodreads). This was definitely a story within a story…I love the books that Morton writes!

-A book with a title that’s a character’s name: Davita’s Harp by Chaim Potok. The main character is a young girl named Davita, hence why I chose it for this prompt. “For Davita Chandal, growing up in the New York of the 1930s and ’40s is an experience of joy and sadness. Her loving parents, both fervent radicals, fill her with the fiercely bright hope of a new and better world. But as the deprivations of war and depression take a ruthless toll, Davita unexpectedly turns to the Jewish faith that her mother had long ago abandoned, finding there both a solace for her questioning inner pain and a test of her budding spirit of independence.” (Goodreads).

-A book with career advice: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Although I don’t specifically have what one might call a “professional” career, I used to be work for a professional organizing company and it’s something that I still love to do in my own home. This book was a great little volume on some basics to getting through the seemingly never-ending possessions that we own. It gave me ideas of what to do in my own home, and also showed different ways of thinking about our possessions. And, do we really NEED everything that we have in our homes? A great read.

-An espionage thriller: Sweet Tooth  by Ian McEwan. This was a somewhat entertaining read. Not as much thriller as slightly espionage-like, but it works for this category. The story of Serena Frome who finds herself involved with the Intelligence Service, and is sent on a secret mission that brings her into the literary world of Tom Haley, a promising young writer. She loves his stories and then she finds herself staring to love him. If and when she reveals her undercover life is indeed the question of the day!

-A book written by someone you admire: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay  by J.K. Rowling. Based on the short volume that Rowling wrote for charity, this flushes that “textbook” out into a full screenplay which was made into a film. The brief journey of Newt Scamander as he attempts to retrieve some of the magical creatures that he brings to New York…after they accidentally escape from his case. An excellent read by one of my faves whom I admire…J.K. Rowling! Love this brief look into her wizarding world!

2017 Reading Challenge: 3rd installment

-A book by an author who uses a pseudonym: Shopaholic to the Stars  by Sophie Kinsella. This is book #7 in the Shopaholic  series, and ‘Sophie Kinsella’ is a pseudonym for British writer Madeleine Wickham. This book finds Becky and her family relocating to Hollywood and trying to begin a career as a stylist to the stars! I’ve read a few of the earlier books in this series, and I enjoyed the ones I’ve read more than this one. This one was okay, but there seemed to be a lot going on and I wasn’t a huge fan of the move to Hollywood.

-A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you: In This Together: Fifteen Stories of Truth and Reconciliation edited by Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail. Since this was a collection of essays, I wouldn’t really say that there is one main character. But the fact that there are numerous characters/authors that are from the First Nations and Inuit communities will qualify for this category (as I am from neither of those communities). An excellent book, and one that should be read by all Canadians.

-A book set in a hotel: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet  by Jamie Ford. So, this book doesn’t actually take place in a hotel…although there are a few scenes where it does, the story revolves around the Panama Hotel. A fictional story happening around the Japanese internment camps in the U.S. during WWII, and also race relations between the Chinese and Japanese characters. A beautiful story, jumping back and forth from the 1940s and 1986. I was in tears by the end. For those who love a good read, I would highly recommend this one!

-A book set in the wilderness: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail  by Cheryl Strayed. This was a fascinating book! I read it in just a few days, and could hardly put it down! The true story of Cheryl Strayed who, after the death of her mother and her own divorce, hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) alone over three months. This is an incredible story.

-A book with pictures: Canada  by Mike Myers. This book is something that Mike Myers refers to as “a love letter to Canada.” It’s an excellent read full of humour, history, and all things Canadian. “It is both a memoir of a Canadian at home and abroad, and a wildly autobiographical investigation of a nation.” (part of the book’s description). This book is full of pictures/photographs of Mike Myers and all sorts of Canadian memorabilia! A great read for someone looking for some Canadiana or something new by Mike Myers!